Hey there, my oldest. My firstborn. How is it possible that you are a senior in high school already? Is it super cliche of me to ask where the time has gone? Probably. That’s OK, though, because I’m going to ask myself that very question about a million more times before graduation arrives. But it’s really not questions that I’m bringing to you today. Nope. Instead, it’s just a tiny bit of advice from someone who knows you better than you know yourself and here it is. Don’t limit your dreams, kiddo.
There’s a reason it’s called a process.
I know this whole college application process can be overwhelming at times, maybe even a bit discouraging. All of the varying deadlines and requirements, essays and transcripts and recommendations are enough to make anyone’s head swim! You, though, are handling it all with a calm and level head which seems to be your natural approach to just about everything. And I want you to know how proud that makes your dad and me.
But, kiddo, there’s a reason it’s called a process. There are lessons to be learned along the way, you know? It’s not a one step and you’re done kind of thing. Nor should it be! The old adage goes that “anything worth having is worth working for.” Your dad and I certainly believe that and I think our lives are proof of it, too.
So know that when you get frustrated because you’re writing the 8th draft of your essay, it’s worth it. You’re learning writing skills and tenacity that will serve you down the road. When you have to keep pestering that math teacher for the letter of recommendation she promised you, you’re learning patience and persistence. And when you’re navigating the online application process, not only are you gaining confidence in your own resourcefulness, but you’re teaching a new skill to your parents, as well. (By the way, whatever happened to the paper applications we had to submit 25 years ago?! Those were way easier. Just sayin’.)
Keep the overwhelm at bay.
I see it in your eyes sometimes, you know. We’ll be talking with Dad about your future and all of the things that still need to be done in order to bring it about. And ever so slowly, bit by bit, the overwhelm creeps in. Your eyes lose just a little bit of focus and your brows draw closer together. Maybe you’ll even slump a little in your chair or your answers to our questions will get shorter.
Please know that I see that. Know that we can tell when you start to check out of a conversation. But know, also, that you can be the one to actually say enough is enough. Don’t ever be afraid to stop us and say, “Hey Mom and Dad, this is all really exciting and I’ll do what I need to do, but talking about it is overwhelming me right now.” I promise that we’ll try our best to respect how you feel. We aren’t perfect, but we will try.
On the flipside, though, I challenge you to tell that feeling of overwhelm to take a hike. When you start to feel like the future is too big, lean into it. When you feel like you’re in over your head, stretch up a little taller. And know that the whole while, Dad and I are here to help you and support you in any way we can.
And for goodness’ sake, don’t limit your dreams.
Listen up, kid, and listen good. God has bigger dreams and plans for your life than you could ever imagine. Nothing you can dream up is out of His scope of possibility for you. If He has put it on your heart, He’s got the way to make it happen.
Don’t limit your dreams when you talk to God, certainly. But don’t limit them to try to please us as your parents, either. Don’t think that you need to limit yourself to looking at only this school or only this distance from home. Please don’t ever think that we will be disappointed in you if you choose one course of study over another. And please, my love, don’t think that we will ever be anything but proud of you for stepping out in faith and courage even if, in the end, you find that maybe what you chose wasn’t your dream after all.
These dreams that you carry in your heart right now have been put there for a reason. They are there to guide you, to give you hope for the future and something to look forward to. The dreams you dream now are the ones you will look back on someday and think, Wow, I made it! Or it may be that you look back and think, Wow, that was some dream, but look where I landed instead. I couldn’t have dreamed anything this wonderful if I tried.
If ever there was a time for dreams, it’s now.
So dream big dreams, kiddo.
Dream big dreams and chase them down. Whisper them to the God who loves you in your prayers, share them with your friends or your brother, and tell them to us. Let us all help you to accomplish them however we can.
Dream big dreams, yes. But know, too, that the path you follow to chase them down may be fulls of twists and turns and hills and valleys. Never fear when you lose sight of your dream, though. Never fear that you are alone or have no one to help you. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We’ve got you. God’s got you.
So let’s do this, yeah? Let’s buckle up and enjoy the ride together, OK?
I love you to the moon and back and more.